This is a time to rejoice, to celebrate, and to give thanks.
Come with us and take a peek at the work being done around the world in the
sphere of health.
At the General Conference we have a health ministries team
made up of the writer, Kathleen Kuntaraf, Peter Landless, and Stoy Proctor,
and our office assistants, Beth Pettit, Shirley Rowley, Farida Sabot, and Laura
Sanchez. This team is supported by the unpaid but valuable associates: Tom Zirkle,
a Loma Linda plastic surgeon; Pat Jones, Loma Linda professor of international
nursing; Quintes Nicola, associate for dental affairs; John Eaton, associate
for ophthalmic affairs; and consultant associates Joyce Hopp, Patricia Johnston,
and Richard Hart, all from Loma Linda. Two special assistants, Gary Hopkins
and Rob Johnson, complete the team.
Hardworking though the General Conference team may be, it is
in the field that the miracles occur.
Early in the quinquennium, a 12-part series on health was prepared,
and using the acronym CELEBRATIONS, we introduced this package around the world.
We felt this series would be useful as lectures, as a health expo, or even a
series of lessons. The Lord took this humble offering and multiplied it. In
Russia they are on the second printing of 200,000 sets of the CELEBRATIONS lessons,
using them as a correspondence health series. In the Philippines government
leaders were so impressed with CELEBRATIONS that they asked if it could be used
as a government lifestyle program. Now they pay to train our pastors in CELEBRATIONS
and then certify them with a government certificate that opens the doors for
our pastors in places that previously barred them.
CELEBRATIONS is used in Inter-America, translated into French
and Spanish. Laypeople all around the world find that the easy PowerPoint program,
available on a CD, neatly encapsulates the Adventist health message.
Our team has held "Quest for Quality" meetings for
health professionals in four divisions. Partnering with Adventist Risk Management
and volunteers from Loma Linda, the health team has highlighted the role of
health professionals as preachers without pulpits.
Young people have found the Lord as Kathleen Kuntaraf, along
with the General Conference Youth Ministries, Education, and Family Ministries
departmental staffs, has trained many in the Youth Alive program. The group
has visited and trained in the islands of the Caribbean, Asia, and even in Mongolia.
It is thrilling to hear that 40 were baptized in Mongolia the first year after
the Youth Alive meeting.
Health Ministries has joined with evangelists in several evangelistic
campaigns, and CELEBRATIONS always attracts the attention of the crowd. Pastors
and their wives have been trained to do Breathe Free, Birthing Companions, and
stress-control programs, and to participate in HIV/AIDS ministries. In Romania,
Indonesia, and the Philippines, hundreds of pastors' wives have learned how
to be birthing supporters to the younger women having babies in the Birthing
Companions course. Every division (13) has had a health advisory, where the
leaders have joined together in planning and creating health ministry initiatives.
One important development has been the setting up of an office
in Africa to coordinate and activate the church in its HIV/AIDS ministry. Oscar
Giordano and his wife, Eugenia, are setting up curricula for schools and colleges
and training laity to be health supporters in local churches. In this ministry
thrilling stories of triumph over disaster warm the heart. Major HIV/AIDS conferences
organized by ADRA have been held in Harare and Nairobi, where health ministry
leaders have rallied the church to heed the call for help. The World Health
Organization (WHO) invited the Adventist Church to be partners in their "3
by 5" program, which calls for three million to receive treatment during
2005. All divisions have been open to this participation.
Isolated mission hospitals have been drawn into new health-care
systems. This quinquennium has seen the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, the
East-Central Africa Division, and the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division
create new health systems. Loma Linda has provided invaluable assistance as
an undergirding educational infrastructure, and Adventist Health International
has worked to provide guidance in management and governance to many faltering
institutions. Bill Robertson and his Adventist Health System have provided funding
for an EBSCO library that permits mission institutions and schools of nursing
access to a full-text library of 300 journals. Griggs University has come to
the table with plans to give credits for registered nurse training in a program
that permits nursing schools to include general education credits so their graduates
can obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies. The Health Ministries
Department has acted as a catalyst for change in all these activities.
The General Conference Nutrition Council, led by Stoy Proctor,
meets regularly. They are currently revising the vegetarian food pyramid to
take into account the latest national recommendations. Two outstanding international
conferences on vegetarian nutrition have been held in Manila and Tokyo. Stoy
Proctor went to Greece, Georgia (in Eastern Europe), and the Philippines to
train others how to conduct stop-smoking programs. In the Philippines, the government
has accepted Breathe Free as its official program. Stoy Proctor and Kiti Freier
trained the government health officials in the details of the program.
Samuel Young walked into my office to talk about hospitals.
The discussion drifted to the need in the Euro-Asia Division for more health
training. After a couple of phone calls to Loma Linda, Pat Johnson prepared
a proposal for the Chan Shun Foundation. They agreed to fund the major portion
of an M.P.H. program for the Euro-Asia Division. James Kyle, the new dean at
Loma Linda, now has this M.P.H. program well under way. The Lord provides so
Peter Landless has moved ahead in the area of temperance. Holding
an International Conference first in the Washington, D.C., area, he has worked
internationally in collaboration with the health ministries team to stimulate
the work of the (International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and
Drug Dependency (ICPA). Dozens of new national chapters of ICPA are being set
up, and the work of advocacy for people and against drugs is progressing. Of
particular interest is to promote having the World Cricket Cup as a tobacco-free
event next year.
Gary Hopkins heads the Institute for the Prevention of Addictions
(IPA). With his colleagues, he has researched the factors impacting our youth
and the risks that beleaguer them.
Throughout the world there is a renewed interest in health.
In Europe, Adventists are setting up health clubs, and dozens are flourishing
in Slovakia. The South Pacific Division has started a program called "Taking
Charge of Your Health," and it is attracting new members to the church.
In South America, our mission hospital program provides much-needed
help to large populations. The medical school in Argentina trains young people
for health ministries. A new dental school in Montemorelos is training its first
class. Adventist University of the Philippines has opened a School of Dentistry.
The Adventist Health Study at Loma Linda is seeking North American
Adventists to enroll. Have you done so? We all have a part to play. Why not
have every member a medical missionary? What a joy!
The Adventist vision of health is a blessing to the world.